Encouraging Teen Independence
Watching your child grow up and become their own person is amazing! You may feel a little sad sometimes when they’re spending less time with you and doing more on their own. These signs of independence are normal parts of becoming a teen. Remember that you are important to your teen’s healthy development and can help them make good decisions. Below are some ideas to build on what you’re already doing to support your teen’s independence.
Encourage Outside Activities and Interests
Raising healthy and independent teens means encouraging them to explore interests and activities that may take them away from home. Help them discover hobbies that will keep them active, teach them new skills, and let them have fun.
Spending Time Together Provides Opportunities for Connection and Communication
While your teen may be spending more time at school, at work, or hanging out with friends, let them know you are always there for them. Plan get-togethers, meals, or other activities so that you and your teen can check in with each other. When you are together, make sure you are really listening and responding empathetically to your teen so that they feel heard. This time with each other can help you both feel connected when you’re apart.
Doing things together on a regular basis can also give you the time and space you need to provide guidance and set limits (instead of talking about punishments). It’s helpful to talk to your teen about how you want them to behave, both when they’re at home and away. You can explain that while all emotions are okay, not all behaviors are acceptable. As your child gets older, it’s a good idea to involve them in defining those acceptable behaviors and making decisions. If your teen has a say in setting expectations ahead of time, they may feel more invested in following your guidance as they become more and more independent.
Be Clear and Consistent with Expectations
Teens like to know what is expected of them and what the limits are (for example, being respectful, arriving home by curfew, being safe on the internet). Consistency is key. Talk to your teens about the different situations they end up in and ask them questions about their emotions, decisions they made, and their behavior. Listening to your teen as they think through what happened can help them make better decisions and see the connection between what they decided to do and the consequences of their actions.
As your teen grows and gains more experience, your expectations of them will likely shift over time. Communicate with your teen as this happens so they have a clear understanding of what you expect.
After watching the Encouraging Teen Independence video and reading the information on this webpage, you may be interested in trying one or more of the following activities. Feel free to print this Encouraging Teen Independence [5 MB, 2 Pages] PDF and write on it, type notes on your phone, or just take a few moments to quietly reflect on the questions.